Ohio is one of the many states addressing funding needs for mental illness. National Mental Health week has encouraged many to advocate for awareness and action. The Butler County region of Ohio refers to results from a recent survey by their Mental Health Board which observed a 124 percent spike in persons pursuing their services within the last 10 years. Clients totaling 4,471 were assisted in 2004 comparing to 9,997 in 2014. Over 2,500 more are expected to seek services in 2015.
Funding provided by the federal and state governments has decreased while demand has increased. The Board oversees the county’s mental health system, providing funding, quality assurance and strategic planning, as well as assessing needs for 10 providers. State funding has dwindled $4.3 million annually between 2007 and 2011. Funding for next year is projected at $860,043.
Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services media relations director, Eric Wanndersleben, says many steps had been taken by the governor to guarantee that problems in addiction and mental health are addressed. He credits the expansion of services to a broader population to the extension of Medicaid.
$557 million in Medicaid funding is the largest advance to behavioral and physical services. That extension, provided by Governor John Kasich, will be applied in fiscal year 2015 for Ohio residents experiencing addiction or mental illness. It frees up $70 million per year in clinical services funded by the county.
A study done in Cincinnati discovered 97.2 people being clinically depressed out of 324 people who completed the survey, meaning those with a depression diagnosis make up 30 percent. Eighteen percent described their mental health as “not good” for at least 14 days out of the last 30. Both numbers have increased since the 2010 study. The Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey has a margin for error of 5.4 percent. Nevertheless, it revealed that women were more often diagnosed with depression than men by a difference of 18 percent. Butler County’s confirmed diagnosis rate exceeded that of the greater area of Cincinnati.
Jennifer Chubinski noticed the increase and feels mental illness needs funding support in Ohio. As Interact for Health’s director for community research, she observed the region’s rise from 15 percent to 23 percent in the last decade and a half. She and others were in the process of collecting data when they witnessed the jump. The steady increase has continued with time.
Scott Rasmus, the Mental Health Board Executive Director, suspects that many have not responded truthfully on the survey. He believes more people are afraid to admit they have the problem or may not be aware it exists. He cites statistics that show roughly one-fifth of any population suffers from a mental illness. Twenty percent of Butler County’s population is about 75,000 people. One-third of that number is seeking mental health assistance.
Rasmus says the issue is prevalent in society. He notes the 50,000 are either unaware, undiagnosed, uneducated on the issue or fear stigmatization. Rasmus claims the mental health issue – which he says is discussed least – is more ubiquitous than breast cancer and other physical illnesses.
Illinois’s Denise Crosby sees the issue as well. Crosby, of The Beacon News, opines that there is no system in place to assist people suffering from the disease. National Alliance on Mental Illness and other programs offer awareness and resources on the issue.
Mental illness was not discussed as often in years past even as it afflicted families. Some people still take the blame for the disease when their child suffers from it. However, the stigma associated with mental illness has tapered. Many programs and organizations fight for its awareness, which penetrates all professions and encourages screenings. For mental health assistance to become available in Ohio as well as other states, funding is needed.
By Charice Long